On tonight’s episode of 106 & Park you’ll have the chance to anonymously submit your questions about being a young single parent to our experts Dr. Tartt and Dr. Michelle, but for now, see what the experts have to say about pregnancy myths, and how pregnancy affects your social life and your romantic relationships.
Q: What factors should be considered when a young person is sexually active, but they’re not taking any precautionary measures?
A: One, the chances of getting pregnant are higher than at any point later in life because teen girls have the highest rates of pregnancy, [moreso] than in any other time in their life. As we know, the older you get the more difficult it is, but the reverse is also true. The younger you are, starting from 12, 13, 14, the more likely you are to get pregnant. Unprotected sex as a teen is more likely to result in a pregnancy. So, the myth of “they won’t get pregnant” is especially untrue. In fact, teen girls are so fertile that it would be safe to assume that they’d get pregnant if they have unprotected sex even once just because of where their bodies are [hormonally speaking]. – Dr. Tartt
Q: Do you have any advice for any single teen fathers?
A: Absolutely. I think that they should find a positive male mentor to teach them how to be a better man, and not take no for an answer. It’s better to get advice from a man that has been there and that is positive versus trying to figure it out on your own. Realize that part of being a father regardless of your age is being able to financially provide for your child. So, it’s important that you are looking, seeking employment and taking care of your responsibility as a young man because there’s nothing more humiliating or more frustrating to a mother than for you not be able to contribute to the financial responsibility of raising a child. However, if you’re out of work right now, there are things that you can do that can decrease your expenses. Babysitting, coming up to the school, taking care of things around the house that you can fix so that she doesn’t have to call the repairman, and being there for your child is important. There’s really no price tag on quality time. When men are ashamed, they don’t come around their families — that’s of any age. But it’s better for you to be there for your child emotionally and wait until you get a job to kick in financially than to be absent until you find a job and come in later. You’ll never get those years back and your child is steadily building up resentment for you not being there in addition to the mother. –Dr. Tartt
Q: How do you balance parenting and a social life?
A: You know, all parents really struggle with time management and how to make time for themselves because it’s very important to be healthy and strong in order to be a good parent. So I think that people really do have to schedule and make arrangements for personal time. That’s when people in your life, like parents, grandparents and family friends, the people that are supporting you and helping raise your child, those are the people you need to talk with and see if you can get some support so that you have some time to carve out to do the things that you need, which might be studying for school, having a part-time job or spending some time with your friends after you already made sure that you’ve made arrangements for your child and all the things that they need to have taken care of. – Dr. Michelle
Q: When is it a good time to introduce a significant other to your child?
A: I think that there are several things that you need to consider before you introduce the person you’re dating to your child. Anything from how old your child is, how mature and developed they are, how long you’ve been dating, how the relationship is that you’re going into and does it have what you would consider a long-term future, and how you think your child will be able to handle it. I think where people struggle is they think, “I wanna date. My child has their friends and I want to have my life and my friends and if my kids happen to be around the person that I’m dating … what’s wrong with that?” But what people don’t anticipate is that children become very attached to certain adults, particularly when they don’t have a father figure around — they may get attached to this other person, or they may just simply like that person. Children like attention and encouragement and so the challenge is making sure you don’t introduce someone to your child too soon. Sometimes introducing your child to the person you're dating too soon can be overwhelming for your partner. Let’s face it, you’re already dealing with a lot of responsibility as a young parent and then you’re probably dating another young person, [they] could also be overwhelmed because you may want them to help parent your child or to be more involved than they may be ready to be involved. It’s important to make sure that you’re on the path to a committed relationship or you feel very confident in that path before you start to put your child and someone you’re dating together. – Dr. Michelle
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(Photo: Chicago Tribune/MCT /Landov)